Mudcat Café message #3886717 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3886717
Posted By: Jim Carroll
04-Nov-17 - 07:48 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
I have no problem with most of your points Richard
The evidence of workers making song in Britain throughout the 19th century; the Chartist newspapers ran weekly columns by weaverts et al which are still accessible in Manchester Central Library
I seem to remember Stave conceding that The Bothie workers made their own songs without the aid of print.
The BBC even recorded Scots women in the Hebrides making songs on the spot extolling the sexual virtues of Alan Lomax.
Song Making continued right into the twentieth century with miners like Joe Corrie, who is, I believe on par with the Irish local songmakers
What made Ireland stick out as a songwriting nation was its 'over-abundance of history' - events like The Famine, the mass evictions, the enforced emigrations and the fight for national freedom demanded that songs were made, both in print and orally - this happened in every County in Ireland, North and South
Can I just remake my point as to why I believe the question of who made our songs to be an important point
In a couple of weeks time, Pat and I are speaking to Galway Uni students on the conclusions we drew from our collecting in Ireland
We intend to finish with this on locally made songs

"To bring this a little nearer home, following the Famine, the emigrations and the mass evictions, in the 1870s, when the British government decided to break up estates owned by absentee landlords and redistribute the land into Irish hands, some areas, particularly Clare, Limerick and parts of Galway objected to the way this was done, claiming that already wealthy farmers with large farms were being given the largest portions.
The most popular form of protest adopted was the 'cattle raid'; cattle would be stolen from the wealthiest farms, stampeded through the larger towns accompanied by the rustlers, shouting and blowing on horns and then let loose on large stretches of open lands, The Burren, in North Clare being a favourite spot
The official protests were abandoned around 1911, but in some places continued to Independence and beyond and these actions gave rise to a number of songs We were given this by Clare man, Michael 'Straighty Flanagan' he called it 'The Graziers'; Patrick Galvin included it in his 'Songs of Irish Resistance' as 'The Grazier Tribe'

Eg 10 ?Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan The Graziers

This brings us to probably the most important discovery we made throughout our collecting activities, local songs.   
Apart from the general repertoire, West Clare singers had a wealth of home-made songs, largely anonymous, dealing with local events, people or aspects of daily life and quite often made during the lifetimes of the singers. Only a couple, as far as we could find, had made it into print. We?re not referring to songs from the national repertoire which has had local place-names tagged onto them; these are common enough, but the home-grown compositions which have seldom taken root elsewhere because of their specifically parochial nature, quite often disappearing when the cause of their inspiration faded from memory.
These songs included many aspects of life, from everyday experience to national events viewed locally. As one 94 year old singer told us, ?In those days, if a man farted in church somebody made a song about it.
This is a song, almost certainly made in Corofin, North Clare some time in the 1930s, commenting on a new hairstyle; the singer is Tom Lenihan of Miltown Malbay.

Eg 11 Tom Lenihan The Bobbed Hair

We have recorded a number of such local songs and have been made aware of many more ? back in the 1970s a book entitled 'Ballads of Clare' edited by Sean Killeen was published containing 147 of these songs originating in East Clare. Some casual enquiries suggest that songs such as these were once common all over Ireland and have been largely neglected or have disappeared from the repertoires because of their parochial and ephemeral nature. The implication of the existence of these songs is extremely significant
Since the early days there has been a running argument as to whether the ?ordinary? people were capable of making our Classic ballads. Now, this idea has spread to our songs, with suggestions that 90% plus of them originated on the broadside presses and this questions the entire concept of rural song making
We believe that working people were natural song makers who found it necessary to put their feeling and experiences into verse, for entertainment certainly, but the subject matter and the time in which they were made makes them essential pieces of our history
For instance, over forty years ago we got this next song from several Travellers, all of whom asked that we don?t make it public as the couple in the song were still very much alive at the time; we've respected those wishes up to now but feel that all concerned, the couple and the singers, are now long dead, so there?s no harm in playing it on occasions such as these
The singer here, blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney, told us laughing, "Paddy's my cousin and he?d murder me if he found I'd sung it to you" The song deals with ?made matches, marriage done through a matchmaker; such songs are to be found throughout the oral tradition, some about willing marriages, but most about enforced ones. The woman in the song was chosen because of her skill at one of the traditional Traveller trades of the time, buying, cleaning and re-selling old feather mattresses. We got the background of the song from our friend, Kerry Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy, who was present when the song was made. He said it was made on the morning of the wedding by a group of Traveller lads sitting on a grassy bank outside the church humorously predicting how the marriage taking place would end up

Eg 12 Mary Delaney Paddy McInerney"

Jim Carroll